Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) Trustee Yvonne Cerrato, who represents most of the Tri-Valley on the county's Board of Education, was cleared by her colleagues after a recent internal investigation into allegations that she actually resides in Oregon.
"This questioning of my residency is politically motivated and there are people that would like to see me forced out of the office so that the board is forced to appoint somebody and then that person runs as the incumbent," Cerrato said during the Sept. 14 board meeting where the results of the investigation were shared.
Cerrato was first elected to the board in 2002 to represent Area 7, which includes all of Pleasanton and Livermore, the eastern portion of Dublin, the unincorporated communities of Sunol and Mountain House, and the southeastern part of Fremont.
Her residency initially came into question back in August when former Livermore Education Association president Cate Sarraille and other residents called upon the ACOE to look into whether Cerrato had moved to Oregon, where she operates a 40-acre farm called AJ Organics in honor of her late son.
At its Aug. 24 meeting, the ACOE board directed staff and legal counsel to further investigate the issue, which included questions posed, in writing, to Cerrato about where she resides. They returned on Sept. 14 with their findings.
Seven people, including Sarraille, submitted written public comments ahead of the meeting expressing concerns about Cerrato's current residency.
In board attorney Ed Sklar's report, one of the questions he had asked Cerrato was whether she is a current resident of California and her trustee area, to which she responded, "I am a resident of Area 7 and I have a farm and farm business in Oregon. My plan for the coming months is to continue to faithfully and dutifully finish my term as Trustee 7, ACBE."
Cerrato also shared in her responses that she owns a home in Pleasanton and a condo in Livermore, which both have her "personal furnishings in them." However, she also said that she has rented both residences out at different times.
She said that while she does visit Oregon for business and personal travel and she has participated in virtual board meetings from Oregon, she has never been a full-time or permanent resident.
At the end of his report, Sklar told the board that, "the evidence supports the conclusion that Trustee Cerrato has maintained legal residency in Area 7." He also said that an attempt by the board to pursue the issue in court would likely fail due to insufficient evidence to support that Cerrato no longer resides in her trustee area.
Despite Sklar's conclusions, Sarraille doubled down on her belief that Cerrato is not a Tri-Valley resident during public comment following Sklar's report. "When Trustee Cerrato talks about maintaining a room in Livermore or staying at her house in Pleasanton, she is living a lie," Sarraille said.
"The reality is, you can fool some of the people all of the time and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time and it's time for her to stop trying to fool the people in Livermore," she added.
Cerrato's term is set to expire in June 2022, and she announced during the board meeting that she will not be seeking re-election.
"I have been in this position for 19 years and I've served it faithfully and I will continue. I am not going to run again because it's time for me to move on and do different things. But until I am done, I will continue to be a faithful person of the public," she said, adding that she has loved being on the board and representing the area she lives in.
A complete recording of the Sept. 14 meeting is available here.